A judge has imposed a six- to 22-year sentence in a drive-by shooting that preceded the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager fleeing a Pennsylvania traffic stop last year.
Zaijuan Hester, 18, was sentenced Monday on earlier guilty pleas to aggravated assault and firearms crimes in the June 2018 shooting in North Braddock.
Minutes after that shooting, which wounded two people, police stopped a car matching the suspect vehicle. Hester and 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. fled, and Rose was shot and killed by a police officer. Jurors in March acquitted East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld, who is white, of homicide in Rose's death.
Hester apologized to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani during the hearing, saying that "over the course of my young life, I made some mistakes," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettereported.
"I am deeply sorry for my actions — because my actions cost my friend his life," he said. "I haven't been the same since."
Tears streamed down his face as the judge imposed sentence, calling his risk to the community "substantial," noting two juvenile adjudications for gun possession.
"This all started because you went back to the gun life," the judge said. Hester told the court that once he is released, he would like to speak to high school students to try to deter them from following his path, the Post-Gazette reported.
Defense attorney Anne Marie Mancuso said her client had lost five people close to him to gun violence, including his father when he was only 4 years old, and also his godfather, uncle and best friend.
Mancuso, in seeking significantly less prison time, also cited his guilty plea and a strong family support system, and said, "I think his remorse is genuine."